Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is a highly contagious, air-borne illness caused by the bacterium Bordatella pertussis. It gets its name from the “whoop” sound that people make when they are gasping for air after a coughing spell. Onset symptoms are similar to those of the common cold: runny nose, fever and cough. After a week or two, however, vomiting and exhaustion can occur due to extreme coughing spells, and may continue for up to six weeks. In infants, the cough may be minimal or non-existent; apnea may be the only symptom.
Because infants younger than 12 months old have the highest risk for severe and life-threatening complications and death due to pertussis, it is imperative that parents seek immediate medical attention if their child exhibits such symptoms.
Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of cases reported. In 2010 alone, there were 27,550 cases in the U.S. It is believed that there are several factors that have contributed to the rise of pertussis including increased awareness and improved recognition of pertussis among clinicians, better access to and use of lab diagnostics, increased reporting to public health departments, and decreased immunity from vaccines.
The best forms of prevention for infants, children, teenagers and adults is vaccination and avoiding contact with infected people. The recommended pertussis vaccine for infants and children in the U.S. is called DTaP, which is a combination vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Because vaccine protection for these three diseases fades over time, it is recommended that preteens, teens and adults receive a booster every 10 years called the Tdap vaccine, which actually replaces the Td booster shot.
Stop by ProHealth today to get the Tdap booster if you are getting ready to meet the newest addition to your family, or of someone else’s!